Strange question, you may think, and you are probably right. I don’t mean it literally.
However, I am sure you would agree that people who make bolder decisions and choices; people who go for it ‘all out’ tend to have a higher risk of failing. In fact, the bigger you play in any area if you fail you will most likely fail bigger.
In contrast, people who play small and safe tend to avoid failures and if they do their failure is much smaller.
So, perhaps the right question is: “Are you playing big enough?”
What’s big enough? There is no objective definition or metric. Each one of us has to determine that for ourselves.
However, there are a few guiding principles that I would believe most of you would agree to.
- Do you have a vision for your life? It doesn’t have to be fancy. It could be any type or level of articulation of your desired future outcomes, commitments, ambitions, desires. Many people don’t have any of that. It takes courage to dream, desire and want. It takes greater courage to declare it in public. By doing so you are positioning yourself in the world as an optimistic, positive and committed person, rather than a resigned, cynical and negative person. As a result of you raising the bar on your brand, people will hold you to a higher standard, they will expect more from you and they will judge you more harshly if you don’t live up to your declarations/commitments.
- Are you taking action consistent with your life vision and commitments? My youngest daughter who is studying psychology at university reminded me this week that wanting something is much easier than actually going for it. In fact, she gave me examples of people we know who keep talking about what they want, but they don’t take any actions to pursue it. Again, it doesn’t have to be fancy. You could start with small steps in the right direction. In fact, walking before you run is a good strategy. When it comes to action, the direction of your action – ensuring that they come from your commitment – is more important than the quantity or magnitude of your actions – at least in the beginning. It doesn’t take courage to want. It does take courage to take actions.
- Are you pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone? Once you have got the basic and psychological needs of the survival pyramid down you could start pushing yourself to perform at a higher level. Eleonora Roosevelt’s quote says it quite eloquently: “Do one thing every day that scares you!” If you are doing something, which takes you out of your comfort zone and your stomach is turning, that is probably a good indication that you are playing big enough.
- Are you celebrating your accomplishments and successes? From my experience, people who acknowledge, own and celebrate their accomplishments and successes tend to be more positive, happy, fulfilled, powerful and effective! It makes complete sense if you own your accomplishments and successes you are owning your greatness. You are self-empowering yourself. You are promoting a personal brand of someone that is bigger than their circumstances. As a result, you will strive for more, be more open to taking risks and have more confidence in dealing with obstacles and challenges. If you avoid owning your accomplishments and successes, you are fostering a scarce, circumstantial and small self-brand. Great people accomplish great things. Small people don’t accomplish much.
- Are you confronting, owning and learning from your failures? As I stated above, if you play big and go beyond your comfort zone you may fail more often and even bigger. However, if you have the courage to confront, own and learn from your failures falling isn’t that bad. In fact, every failure is the opportunity to learn from your shortfalls, put in the corrections and grow.
You can grow from successes and/or failures. So, perhaps my initial question “Are you failing often enough?” isn’t that farfetched after all.